‘Bully’ gets life in prison for stabbing Cabrillo High student while trying to steal backpack

With his voice shaking, Keeyon Layton told the man who killed his 15-year-old son how the murder changed his life and lives of his family.

“I pray for you. Because of your actions from that day there is a lot of pain and sorrow brought not just on my family but yours,” Layton said.

The father spoke Friday morning in a Long Beach courtroom moments before Judge Gary Ferrari handed down the maximum sentence of life in prison without parole to 22-year-old Giovanny Montelongo for the fatal stabbing of Keshawn Brooks in 2015.

Montelongo, who was 18 at the time, had been trying to steal Brooks’ backpack, according to authorities

“A lot of people grow up with families that aren’t perfect, but they don’t go around killing 15-year-old kids,” Ferrari said, calling Montelongo a “bully.”


Keshawn Brooks’ father, Keeyon Layton, addresses the crowd at a press conference on March 12, 2015. Photo by Brittany Woolsey.

Brooks was a good kid, his father said, who was involved in church and wanted to play college football. Even at his age, he had plans to eventually marry his girlfriend.

“Just as he was becoming the man that he and my wife hoped he would be, he was taken away from us,” Layton said.

Montelongo, who prosecutors said is a gang member, was convicted on June 1 of murder and second-degree robbery. The jury also agreed the murder was committed during the commission of a robbery and that the crimes were committed in association with a criminal street gang.

Prosecutors said Brooks was walking home from Cabrillo High School on March 12, 2015, when Montelongo grabbed Brooks by his backpack before stabbing him. Brooks was taken to a local hospital where he died.

Montelongo was arrested about an hour later after a witness statement led police to a home on the 1700 block of West Columbia. He later pleaded not guilty to the stabbing.

“Because of the actions of a foolish person, I didn’t get to see my son go to prom this year. I had to meet his girlfriend at a candlelight vigil,” said Brooks’ mother, Shawntia Washington, in a statement read by Deputy District Attorney Keith Duckett.

Montelongo’s defense attorney, Randy Na, filed a notice to appeal right after the sentencing.

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Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. She started at the Post in 2018 as a breaking news reporter. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from the Cal State Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two cats.